Holiday crafts : Plaster Letters Project

Holiday crafts :  Plaster Letters Project

this project is a fun way to create oversize letters in your own font and style.

what you need:
cardboard (I just cut up an old box)
exacto knife
cutting mat
hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
plaster of paris
burlap (or other fabric that is open weave)
plastic container/bucket
clear packing tape
sanding paper
graphite powder
gloves (optional)
clear coat spray (optional)

draw your letters on cardboard and cut strips of cardboard 2 inches high (height is optional - in hindsight I realized I could of done them a bit thinner 1 in.)
length of strips should be the same length as the longest side - you want to avoid seams.

once you have the strips cut you are ready to glue them down using your pencil drawing as a guide. make sure when you are gluing that you don't burn yourself and to overlap the corners.

for curve shapes you can take your exacto knife and score lines to make the cardboard curve better. feel free to use additional hot glue on edges and seams to make them stronger - always glue on the side that won't be filled with the plaster.

use the clear packing tape to tape all the walls of the cardboard mold - this may take some time, but well worth it - it will make the plaster release from the mold easier and less surface clean up.

take the plastic bucket and fill it with lukewarm water a quarter of the way
proceed to add the plaster of paris to the water
create a little mound and let sit for 1 minute to allow the water to seep in
stir with your hands - wearing gloves is optional (will make cleaning up easier)
the consistency should be like yogurt (if the mixture is watery it takes longer to set - if it's thicker it will set faster)

to clean bucket - wait till plaster hardens and you squeeze the bucket to break out the plaster

pour the plaster mixture into the mold halfway and take your fingers and move the plaster so that it's on the inside walls - this is not a necessary step, but this important if you don't want to see a seam when you pour the send half of the plaster.

while you are waiting for the plaster to thicken up (around 5 minutes)
cut up strips of burlap - you don't need a lot and you will only need one layer of the burlap
repeat step 3
take the strips of burlap and dip it into the plaster mixture and lay down on top of first layer of plaster poured. once that is done pour the plaster up to the top of the walls of your mold.

let it set to dry (approx. 4 hours or hard to the touch).

once the plaster hardens - remove from the mold by cutting the cardboard with an eacto knife.

once the cardboard has been removed use sand paper to sand and clean the edges - you can also use an exacto knife for the edges, but be careful not to cut yourself.
it's also a good idea to sand while the plaster is still damp to avoid unnecessary plaster dust.
if you are doing something else you can wrap it up in plastic to avoid it drying out completely.

plaster part is completed - if you like the look of the plaster you can leave it white or you can try different surface treatments like painting.

I decided to use graphite powder to give it a metal look.(if you don't have graphite powder you can take a graphite stick and sand it or you can take a soft pencil and draw on the surface) wait till the plaster is dry and not damp before applying the graphite powder with a brush I rubbed in the graphite on to the surface - this process is very quick. as an option you can use a clear coat to spray the surface so that you don't get graphite powder on your walls etc.